The Lynx roster is under construction, with the latest move coming Wednesday, when the team pulled off a sign-and-trade and sent restricted free agent forward Natasha Howard to Seattle for the 17th overall pick in the WNBA draft and the right to exchange first-round picks with the Storm in 2019.
Howard was taken by Indiana in the first round of the 2014 draft and joined the Lynx in February 2016. She provided key minutes off the bench for the Lynx, averaging 4.3 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, and was a solid defender around the paint.
She saw an uptick in her averages over the final nine games, when she played 17.1 minutes a game. Howard played in all 68 regular-season games in two seasons with the Lynx.
“We appreciate Natasha’s valuable contributions to our team over the last two seasons and wish her well in her new journey with the Seattle Storm,” said Lynx head coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve.
The team also re-signed forward Cecilia Zandalasini, who joined the Lynx late last season, and struck new free-agent deals with forwards Lynetta Kizer and Endy Miyem.
The Lynx will maintain a veteran core from last year’s championship team. Rebekkah Brunson, entering her 15th season, re-signed with the Lynx last week. Point guard Lindsay Whalen, who turns 36 in May, is exploring television broadcasting opportunities this offseason but says she hopes to continue playing as long as she can. Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles, the league and Finals MVP, give the team a championship foundation.
However, the roster will look different. Renee Montgomery, who played a pivotal role during an extended stretch last season following Whalen’s hand injury, has left for the Atlanta Dream in free agency.
Guard Jia Perkins retired after 14 years in the league. Even with second-year point guard Alexis Jones returning, the Lynx needs more depth there.
Forward Plenette Pierson also has closed out her professional basketball career.
The Lynx are Kizer’s fifth team. She played with Connecticut last season, averaging 6.0 points and 2.9 points per game.
Before that she was with Tulsa, Phoenix and Indiana. Kizer could help fill the reserve frontcourt role left vacant by Pierson.
Zandalasini signed with the Lynx on Aug. 28 and was worked into the rotation in the last three games of the regular season. This WNBA offseason she is playing for Famila Schio.
“She is coming off an exciting 2017 that included the Italian national team narrowly missing qualification for the 2018 World Cup,” Reeve said. “Her performance at EuroBasket 2017 was described as the ‘greatest FIBA EuroBasket Women debut of all time’. We look forward to having Cecilia for a full WNBA season and are excited about her future.”
Miyem, a 6-2 forward from Reims, France, is also with Famila Schio, averaging 10.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in the Italian league. She has been a part of two French Olympic teams, in London in 2012 and in Brazil in 2016.
“Both Lynetta and Endy are skilled frontcourt players with successful basketball résumés who will provide quality depth behind Rebekkah and Sylvia,” Reeve said.